THDA 444A (H01) - What's Old Becomes New: Dramatic Adaptations

Hon/What's Old Becomes New

Credits: 4.0
Term: Fall 2021 - Full Term (08/30/2021 - 12/13/2021)
Grade Mode: Letter Grading
Class Size:   20  
CRN: 16729
To what degree does updating theatrical themes contribute to societal norms and relevant commentary? This course will examine how enduring dramatic ideas evolve by comparing plays that are written in reaction to or as an extension of a provocative piece, both carrying on similar themes but told in updated ways. Students also will investigate the role these adaptations play in theatre history, why they are done and whether they are justified as quality art.
Department Approval Required. Contact Academic Department for permission then register through Webcat.
Only listed campus in section: Durham, Manchester
Only the following students: Honors Program
Attributes: Writing Intensive Course, Inquiry (Discovery), Honors course, Fine&PerformingArts(Discovery)
Instructors: STAFF

Times & Locations

Start Date End Date Days Time Location
8/30/2021 12/13/2021 TR 2:10pm - 3:30pm PCAC M119
Additional Course Details: 

This course will examine the methods, intentions, and impact of dramatic adaptation. Contemporary playwrights frequently adapt classic plays from Ancient Greek theatre, Medieval morality plays, Shakespeare, and even classics of early 20th century realism, absurdism, and magical realism: deconstructing, refreshing, and reworking structure, characters, and themes to fit the writers’ new sociopolitical context. This seminar will examine both the original and updated works. 

Theatre has the potential to make visceral connections with the audience through universal themes. But what is different about the audience’s experience of productions of original texts versus contemporary adaptations of these plays? Why and how do writers use classic stories as a template for something new? How can a production of an adapted play benefit from dramaturgical analysis and contextualization? Are there “classics” that have been excluded from the canon whose time has come for reexamination and adaptation?

Students will investigate the role dramaturgs, directors, and designers play in preparing an audience to see a classic or contemporary adaptation of a classic play. Students will also develop their own analytical questions such as: what makes the original worthy of adaptation, what types of techniques a writer may employ in adaptation and why, how theatrical themes evolve, and what is relevant to consider about the context in which each play was written.

This course fulfills the Discovery requirement in the category of Fine and Performing Arts. It also fulfills Writing Intensive, and Inquiry requirements.

As a Fine and Performing Arts Discovery, students will develop an understanding and appreciation of theatre as an artform by reading and watching plays from a range of historical periods, develop skills in creative writing  including dramaturgy, which is a kind of research writing that combines academic research with applied creative writing, and produce art in the theatre in ongoing in-class staged readings, and as part of the final project. As a Writing Intensive course, it requires both high- and low-stakes writing, and offers practice in the planning and revision of creative and academic prose. As an Inquiry course, it emphasizes the formation and investigation of complex, open-ended questions.

There are no prerequisites and students do not need to have any prior theatre experience.

Examples of texts under consideration for the fall: Antigone by Sophocles adapted by Don Taylor,Twelfth Night by Shakespeare and Thrive by LM Feldman, Richard III and Teenage Dick by Mike Lew, A Raisin In The Sun by Lorraine Hansbury and Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris, God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch and Indecent by Paula Vogel. Please see the Durham Book Exchange or UNH Bookstore to purchase the required and recommended books.